A CARER who filmed people with severe learning disabilities using the toilet walked free from court today (Wednesday, February 19).

Robert Hoggart was said to have made the sick clips as part of a prank which he then showed off to a workmate.

Teesside Crown Court heard that four men who used the care centre, in Hartlepool, were humiliated in the footage.

Loading article content

The films had embarrassing computer-generated explosions and rockets added to it via a mobile phone application.

Hoggarth, 68, laughed as he showed the videos to a colleague at the Warren Road Day Care centre in August 2012.

The sickened co-worker reported him to their superiors at the council-run centre and police were also alerted.

Hoggarth, who has been a carer for 20 years, was found guilty of ill-treating four vulnerable adults after a trial.

He returned to court yesterday to learn his fate - and was given a community order with 12 months of supervision.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told him: "That's so you can be educated, even at your age, about the effect of this."

He said: "The troubling aspect of your case is your failure to completely comprehend that which you did.

"You thought that they suffered nothing because they did not know that which you had done and because of their limited abilities did not appreciate it and it was all right - it wasn't.

"Essentially, what you did was take advantage of them for your own amusement. You took these images to make fun of them.

"I have no doubt about that because you were at pains to show others because you thought it was amusing. It was a gross breach of trust."

Hoggarth, of Felixstowe Close, Hartlepool, was found guilty of six offences of ill treatment of a person who lacks capacity.

During the trial, his barrister, David Comb, told jurors: “It was stupid, it was immature, it was in bad taste, it was wrong."

Mr Comb added: "This wasn’t a malicious campaign against these people. It was a serious error of judgement.”

Hoggarth was suspended and lost his job after the offences and is now surviving on state hand-outs and a small pension.

Judge Bourne-Arton said: "For many years, you provided a caring service as part of your employment and that is something I take into account.

"But what you did in the taking of that film was not just disrespectful, it was a complete and utter abuse of trust."